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Washington Teacher of the Year says class is 'paradise'
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Washington Teacher of the Year says class is ‘paradise’

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Jeffrey Charbonneau says the secret to his teaching success is listening to his students. (97.3 KIRO FM Photo/Kim Shepard)

“I do live in paradise. I really do, and one of the biggest reasons for that, who I always need to thank, is my students.”

That is how Jeffrey Charbonneau accepted the award as Washington’s 2013 Teacher of the Year. The humble, funny father of two is a science teacher at Zillah High School in central Washington.

“I am not the best teacher in the world, but I listen to my students and that’s what it is about,” Charbonneau said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn praised all nine finalists for the award saying they represent the best our state has to offer.

“These teachers are mentors, coaches, community leaders and friends. We couldn’t be more proud to claim them as Washington state’s teachers, and we celebrate their life-changing work,” said Dorn.

Charbonneau is credited with creating a series of challenging STEM classes in small, rural Zillah High School. Thanks to his focus on science, technology, engineering and math, students will be able to earn college credit in four of his high school courses this year.

He serves not just students in his own district, but kids across the state. Charbonneau created a robotics challenge several years ago in which 850 students from 43 Washington school districts have taken part.

Zillah Principal Mike Torres has had two of his own children in Charbonneau’s classes. He said the enthusiasm the science teacher shows and the personal interest he takes in every student is something all kids deserve to experience.

“As a parent, I see how Jeff has motivated my children, not only to learn the content, but also to become advocates for learning in general,” said Torres.

Program sponsors PEMCO Insurance, SMART Technologies, and Saxton Bradley, Inc., have each donated cash awards, technology prizes and scholarships for Charbonneau and this year’s finalists.

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